May 31, 2013
Alpro wants to make consumers aware of the impact of their behaviour
And is willing to act on its word: Alpro halves waste production compared to 2008 and reduces CO2 emissions of its factories by 14%, while production volumes have risen by 17%
Alpro, a pioneer in the field of plant-based food, is organising a conference today on sustainable eating habits and consumer behaviour. The conference shows how consumers can more easily than generally thought make a greater contribution to the preservation of the planet via their food choices. Sustainable food is not synonymous with organic, expensive, time-consuming or complicated. A sustainable consumer diet is perfectly feasible if it contains at least two thirds plant-based foodstuffs. Alpro considers this is not only the responsibility of the consumer, but is also making more efforts than ever itself to reduce its own ecological footprint.
Western consumer behaviour is pushing the planet with its 7 billion inhabitants to its limits. Informing and educating consumers about the impact of their behaviour is a massive challenge. There are countless myths maintaining the image of sustainable eating as something for idealists’ or for people with a lot of time and money. “By replacing animal foods such as meat or milk in the daily diet with plant-based variations, consumers can reduce their food costs by 10%,” says Janice Harland, nutritionist at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom. Consumers are not sufficiently aware that not only is healthier eating important, but that both healthy and sustainable food go hand in hand. “For example, people who eat less red meat often compensate by eating more poultry, fish and dairy products, which can ultimately increase the pressure on the environment,” says Harland.
However, a wide variety of nutritious plant-based alternatives is available on supermarket shelves. According to Wim Verbeke, professor in agro-food marketing and consumer behaviour at the University of Ghent, “43% of Flemish people think their ecological footprint is fine although on a global level Flanders is one of the regions that puts most pressure on the environment.”
“Together with other stakeholders such as policymakers, NGO’s and retailers, we are taking on the challenge of making consumers realise the importance of sustainable consumption. We are investing a lot of time and resources in this project, including our biennial sustainability report and initiatives such as this conference”, says Bernard Deryckere, CEO of Alpro.
Convincing consumers: make it easy
It turns out that even well-informed consumers do not easily change their consumption pattern. Nevertheless, the conference shows that a contribution by every single consumer can make the difference. Getting consumers to act on their words and actually change their consumption pattern is the big challenge which Alpro as a company wants to take on as a challenge.
“One thing we know: providing clear information is difficult, but changing the behaviour of well-informed consumers is even harder.. The new lifestyle which we will all eventually have to accept, does not have to be expensive and certainly doesn’t have to be difficult,” according to Bernard Deryckere. “The solution consists in inverting our traditional diet of 2/3 animal-based food and 1/3 plant-based food”.
‘Walk the talk’: Alpro sets a good example
The biennial Sustainability Report published today shows that Alpro has put more effort than ever into setting a good example as a sustainable company. The CO2 emissions of the factories of Alpro have fallen by 14% since 2008, while production volume has risen by 17%. Alpro, the first European food company to be part of the WWF Climate Savers programme, is rightly proud of this achievement.
Additionally, Alpro has almost halved its waste. And since 2011, the company has been using a different cap for its soya drinks, which economises 0.96 kg of plastic per 1000 litres of soya drink. In addition, Alpro has made the packaging for its yoghurt products 0.1 mm thinner, which has resulted in 1 kg less plastic per 1000 kg product, with no reduction in quality. Furthermore, at least 1 barge carrying 20 containers of soya beans moors at the quay in Wevelgem every week, which means that 1,200 fewer trucks are clogging traffic every year.
“These are just a handful of the many efforts that we have made in production, transport and packaging. However, the core of our sustainability lies in the type of products we bring to market”, says Koen Bouckaert, Vice President Strategy & Business Development at Alpro. “Plant-based food puts far less pressure on the environment. It requires less land and water and produces fewer CO2 emissions than animal-based food. Cow milk requires 3 times more land and 2.5 times more water than a soya drink, while the CO2 emission for cow milk is 5 times higher.”
“Even plant-based products made, for example, of almonds, put much less pressure on the environment. By building our company around our DNA of plant-based food, we put sustainability at the heart of everything we do. It is also worth knowing that plant-based products currently make up only 1.8% of the European dairy market, so there is a lot of potential for lowering the environmental impact of our food choices. That’s why we are calling on all stakeholders to make an active contribution to this mission.”
For more than 30 years, Alpro has been Europe’s most innovative creator of delicious, nutritious, plant-based foods. We not only pioneered the soyfoods category, but also almond and hazelnut beverage innovations—the first non-soy, plant-based milk alternatives to be commercialized on a large scale in Europe. Our product lines also include plant-based alternatives to yogurt, cream, and margarine—and all Alpro products are non-GMO certified.